Mental Health

If It’s Not in Front of Me Then It Doesn’t Exist

shaggy llama jumping in a field
Image by hibphotography from Pixabay

I’m not sure why searching for “blind” on Pixabay turned up this leaping llama, but he is spectacular, so llama it is.

I used to have a decent memory.  I used to be good at handling multiple pieces of information and task-switching.

Depression put the kibosh on that.

Now, I have a really hard time with spontaneous recall, in the sense of being able to fish things out of my head on command.  That means I have to find ways to compensate.

In my kitchen, that means that food lives on the counter rather than in the cupboards.  If I can’t see it in front of me, I won’t remember that it’s there.

If there are things that I need to take with me when I’m going somewhere (other than my purse, which is a deeply ingrained habit), I set them by the front door so that I wouldn’t be able to get to the door without stepping over them.

I’m okay with remembering my bedtime meds, since I need them to sleep, but morning meds not so much.  So I’ll stick the little bag containing my pills in the middle of the bedroom floor, which makes it hard (although not impossible) not to notice them.

On my computer, it’s always a bit of a struggle to find a balance between having things open so I don’t forget they exist, and not having so many things open that I get overwhelmed.  My Apple Notes app is kind of my control centre.  I like it because each note can contain quite a bit of information that I can see all in one view.  That’s important because even in the short time it takes to switch to a different note, I may well have forgotten the bit of information I was trying to keep in mind.

Right now I’ve got 3 tabs open in one browser and 6 tabs open in another.  That can get a bit overwhelming sometimes, but they’re things that I don’t want to remind myself to think about.  Social media, for example – I don’t tend to use them all that much, but if they’re not open they may not cross my mind at all.

If a new idea pops into my head, I need to write it down immediately, or else it’s gone.  Sometimes, that interrupts whatever tasks I was doing at the time, and by the time I deal with whatever new thing has popped into my head, I’m fuzzy on what I was doing in the first place.  It can end up being rather inefficient, but such is life.

I also spend/waste time looking around my room, my computer desktop, or whatever to see if there’s anything that will cue me about something I’ve forgotten.

I miss having a brain that worked well!

Are there systems you’ve come up with to compensate for effects of your illness?

book cover: Managing the Depression Puzzle by Ashley L. Peterson

Managing the Depression Puzzle takes a holistic look at the different potential pieces that might fit into your unique depression puzzle. It’s available on Amazon and other online retailers, as well as the MH@H Store.

This post contains affiliate links that let you support MH@H at no extra cost to you.

32 thoughts on “If It’s Not in Front of Me Then It Doesn’t Exist”

  1. It’s great that you have these systems in place! The really help out, especially when you’re low on energy.

    I’m bad at remembering meds so I keep them in plain sight on the counter that way I remember to take them. My husband and I both have morning meds so we have a ritual of reminding each other too.

    I also have an anxiety kit that I bring along with me when I go out, it’s got a blanket, some mild downer pills, and food for when I have a panic attack.

    Thanks for writing, as always great post 🙂

  2. Oh la la, I can write a book in regards to my memory and skills! I find myself ging to bing and staring at the screen, I don’t remember what I was going to look up. My strategies are: don’t own too many stuff. I have the basics so I can oversee things. I don’t have a lot of food in the fridge because I’ll forget and it will go bad. I have basic lists; groceries, appointments, ‘larger’ things to buy like clothing etc. I don’t have too many notes because I’ll forget and I don’t put it my phone because I’ll forget to look. My bf calls me to ask if I’ve taken my morning medication. I write the day down on the back of the blisters to be sure that if I did take it, possible forgot about that and end up taking it twice. Most things in my home have a place, not that neat sometimes but a fixed place. Important papers have 1 map and they are put there immediately. I can sort them later. When I have an important appointment I write things down, summarize the converstation to check if I didn’t forget anything, I’ll ask them to make a note or I’ll call my boyfriend afterwards to tell him exactly what was being said, as I still recall it. My boyfriend is my extended memory at this point. And I’m sure I’ll forgot a lot of the other things I do. Oh I also forget how to write a lot of words in english and end up looking up a lot of things I actually do know. To be forgetful makes me insecure sometimes. I hope I’ll discover other tips in the comments, we can makes each others life a bit lighter that way.

  3. I definitely put things by the door so that I don’t forget them. I’ve become fond of apple notes on my iPad as well because I can hand write my notes which helps me remember things better. Great post!

  4. My days are extremely routine, so I usually do okay as long as nothing weird happens. I plan in advance for anything out of the ordinary, but even so, changes to routine can really mess me up. Forex, I’ll wrap my meds in a tissue and put them in my purse if I’m going out for the night, but it’s not certain I’ll remember to take them. I always remember them when I’m in my own kitchen because they’re right there where I get my tea. Not taking my allergy pill even for one night can mess me up, so that’s bad. (I can skip a night of the migraine meds with no effect.) At work, I have to write everything down all the time and keep backup lists.

  5. I keep life as simple as possible. With anxiety, anytime I’m deeply stressed, conflicted, confused, or feeling a heavier than manageable burden, I tend to lose recollection where I’ve left things. Domestic-wise, I simplify my routine and schedule. I crave balance and order, so I have a spot or location for anything I use regularly. Maybe, it’s mild OCD. Also, I have an unnatural aversion to Post-It Notes.

  6. Hi, Ashley… We are so similar when it comes to the “Memory Bank”. Once a thought pops into my head, if I don’t write it down/or log it on my computer… The deposit is lost forever.
    Night times meds, are a given. Fill up my dixie cup at 7pm sharp, good to go. Morning meds were a problem up until I smartened up, and leave them atop my laptop when I’m done using it. Therefore, it’s in my face the moment I wake up.
    At least I’ve improved on scheduling said post, and my draft file has over 15 things I’m working on at once. It helped an awful lot. Thanks to you and Rory… I’m in better shape now than before.

  7. I have the exact same issues! Check, check, check, check, check. I’ve always thought it’s not my mental illness as much as side effects, especially from antidepressants. My theory about antidepressants is that they thin out your brain so that you’re less likely to focus on gloom-and-doom thoughts, but guess what else you can’t focus on? Positive things, productive things, etc. (That, or we’re getting old… hmm, I prefer my first theory!) But I’ve been struggling with it, too, and I’m not sure what the solution is!! Egads!

  8. Wow, you could have been writing about me Ashley. It drives my other half nuts as he’s prone to tripping over the ‘stuff’ I leave on the floor and by the front door. I also always have lots of tabs open i.e. the minute I remember I need to get my shopping, the Tesco browser is opened. For other reminders I always keep a blank document open so that I can ‘write’ things down and if I’m not on my laptop, like you I always write things down, normally on the back of a receipt, bus ticket or whatever’s closest. Caz x

  9. It’s pants that our brains don’t work effectively but good that we find ways to adapt. I also forget stuff and wander around the house staring at random objects in rooms hoping it’ll jog my memory. I constantly know that there’s something I’ve forgotten to do but have no idea what it is!

    I rely on lists, seemingly for everything! Good job I have a lot of journals 😀

  10. Using my phone for everything works best for me. I use the calendar for appointments and for blogging and remember my job schedule and bills. I do have a bad memory until someone reminds me of what I should remember. Sometimes that doesn’t help at all. I am constantly lost in my head that I can even forget I am at work and was already helping who was in front of me.

    I wish I had a better way of remembering things that I could help you. I have left the house way too many times without what I needed

Leave a Reply